Lily is due to kid in just over four weeks and the "new" RIR chicks are now almost four months old. Which means that I have to kick the biddies out of the kidding pen so it can be used as, well, a kidding pen. I'm going to try to clean out the pen tomorrow and open up the slats in the door so the chicks can venture out into the Great Wide Open. I'll then turn on the light in the big side of the coop and hope that they eventually make their way into that side of the coop come dusk. If not, I'll just close up the kidding pen and they will either "Go into the Light" in the big coop or I'll end up having to hand-deliver them to the other side. Which I think I end up doing for at least a month after evicting new chicks from the brooding area. Fun times await.
I think there we still have a total of fourteen older chickens, four of which are roosters. The hens are two years old now so they're starting to slow down in the egg department. I've never culled older hens; I've never had to. Being a free-range chicken around here pretty much means you're darned lucky to make it past two moltings, and if you do manage a third or even fourth year (which has never happened), well then you've earned your keep and are welcome to stay here and eat chicken scratch and kitchen scraps regardless of your egg output. Too bad the older (and obviously smarter) chickens are never the ones that go broody so I can keep those SmartChicken genes at the homestead. And this is why I bought the aforementioned RIR chicks this past summer.
I did have a little "oh crap" moment over the weekend when I walked outside to see two very bloodied roosters. I immediately swore at myself and my laziness because I didn't lock up the chicken door the following evening so on my walk to the barn I was preparing myself to find a chicken coop full of carnage. But I didn't. Upon closer inspection it turns out that the two bloody roosters are the same ones that have been having at it. It's actually kind'a fun to watch them get all fluffy-feathered and fighting, but I'd never seen them actually draw blood until now. Guess it's time to put one of them in the pot. Either that or set up a little Gladiator Arena in the yard and charge admission.
We had some really nice weather last week, but it seems as if Winter was intent on reminding us who is really in charge and I'm back to chopping ice out of the stock tank and loading up the wood stove. Which I suppose is pretty good timing as I'm going to need the stove going in order to make that rooster soup.